It’s a no-brainer to dump a bag of chips in a bowl and to fire up the grill for some burgers when you host your next pool party, but that’s kind of a boring way to jump into summer fun, right? After cannonballing into the pool to cool off, guests are going to come out looking for a refreshing drink and a bite to eat as they relax in the sun. Without going too Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray or Giada De Laurentiis, there are ways to impress your guests with a versatile dining lineup to munch on as you laugh the day into the night.

Here are five of our favorites:

Garlic Bread “Fries”
A simple finger food that can be served with a side dish of marinara, garlic bread “fries” are as tasty fresh out of the oven as they are later in the day. A sliced piece of garlic bread is much less imposing and not nearly as filling as an entire piece of the classic side dish. Food and Wine magazine has a recipe that will make you feel fancy, but a pro hack is to buy your favorite frozen bread and slice it up before serving.

A Bomb Charcuterie Board
Seriously, we’ve all ogled them on restaurant menus and then raved about this trendy appetizer. The dish as just as easy to lay out in the shade and offer lasting sustenance for swimmers and sunbathers. The key, veteran party throwers say, is a variety of meats and cheeses that complement each other. This food blog will lay out a build-your-own version, but just like the garlic bread tip, specialty stores will create a board that may be a more pricey, but saves time and effort.

No-fuss Baby Back Ribs
When you want to go beyond burgers, the baby back rib is a popular and delicious summertime favorite. Two keys: Be sure to grill over indirect heat and create as little disturbance as possible after putting them on the grates. Sure, the BBQ sauce makes the meal a little messy, but it is summer after all and it’s time to indulge. It’s worth setting out a dish of wet washcloths for guests to use to wipe the excess flavor off before they head back to the water.

Buffalo Chicken Sliders
Who doesn’t like the slider? And when the recipe is this easy – the key is a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken – load up, set them out and watch them disappear into the hands of hungry friends and family members.

Fine, Have the Chips Anyway
We get it, the chips, whether tortilla, BBQ, sour cream and onion or another flavor, are a time-honored presence at the party. At least make the dips interesting. This layered spicy black bean dip can complement a salsa, a queso dip or the standard-bearer guacamole.

With the food settled, it’s time to make summer memories around your pool. We have 15 Northeast Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania stores to find what you need for summer fun.

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